Staunton, October 21 – Aleksandr Lukashev, a leading Moscow specialist on infectious diseases, says that the second wave of the pandemic the country is now facing may in some regions be “ten times worse” than the one last spring and overwhelm even the best prepared (youtube.com/watch?v=MbCRw-NzFcs).
The figures back him up. Today, for the first time ever, the Russian authorities recorded 317 deaths, the first time the coronavirus has claimed that many Russians in a 24-hour period. Over the same period, there were also 15,700 new cases of infection, another high (t.me/COVID2019_official/1794).
The media continue to report that restrictions are increasing in many places (regnum.ru/news/society/3072297.html). But despite these trends, Vladimir Putin reassured business representatives that there will not be any “total” shutdown of the economy to fight the pandemic (iarex.ru/news/78036.html).
The fight over what to open and when is now centered on the schools (regnum.ru/news/society/3072297.html). On the one hand, the number of schools totally shuttered has fallen slightly to 124, but the number of classes that are now taking place on a distance basis appears to be going up (regnum.ru/news/3095056.html).
Many older teachers are simply quitting the profession, fearful of infections (regnum.ru/news/3095261.html), and officials are mulling requiring teachers to provide certification that they are coronavirus-free before entering schools (ng.ru/vision/2020-10-21/8_7995_vision.html).
Many Russian officials and ordinary Russians are placing their hopes that a vaccine will solve everything, but epidemiologists say that the available vaccines are still unproved and that even if they work, people will have to continue wearing masks and observing other control measures for some time (rosbalt.ru/russia/2020/10/21/1869160.html).
Skepticism about the vaccines and even about the pandemic appear to be growing. Ever more Russians have concluded that the increases in infections is bringing the country closer to herd immunity and so they are violating recommendations about how to behave and assuming that all will be well (svoboda.org/a/30904881.html, echo.msk.ru/blog/day_photo/2728908-echo/ and profile.ru/society/bolet-nelzya-privitsya-rossiyane-ne-speshat-polzovatsya-vakcinami-ot-koronavirusa-421119/).
On the economic front, officials say the decline in Russia’s GDP is slowing but continuing (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/81009). The falling number of immigrant workers is hitting ever more branches of the economy (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/10/21/165077-issledovanie-40-rossiyskih-kompaniy-nanimavshih-inostrannyh-rabochih-stolknulis-s-problemami-iz-za-ottoka-migrantov and nazaccent.ru/content/34302-opros-otezd-migrantov-iz-za-pandemii-privel.html).
Russia’s airlines warned they will collapse unless the government gives them another 50 billion rubles (700 million US dollars) (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2020/10/21/844135-aviakompanii-poprosili). And in a blow to pride, Russia no longer has any listing on the 100 top brands of the world (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F90559D4B02A).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The Moscow Patriarchate has expanded its program for priests and lay activists to visit those infected with the coronavirus (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/10/21/165091-rpts).
· Officials in Yekaterinburg asked residents not to take literally the mayor’s suggestion that they throw off buses and streetcars anyone not wearing a mask as required (znak.com/2020-10-21/v_merii_poprosili_ne_interpretirovat_doslovno_frazu_vysokinskogo_o_passazhirah_bez_masok).
· And Moscow doctors are telling Russians that “not wearing a mask is equivalent to having sex without contraception” (zona.media/article/2020/10/21/vtoraya-volna).